Some OSHA regions helped to organize safety stand-downs with oil and gas industry partners and STEPS organizations during 2013.

HSE, Offshore Industry Working Together to Prevent Spills

HSE recently met with representatives of Oil and Gas UK and the health and safety managers of several of the UK's offshore producers to discuss how the industry plans to improve process safety leadership, audits, and assurance.

Earlier this year, seeing major hydrocarbon releases continue to occur in the North Sea, the Health and Safety Executive issued a public call to oil and gas executives to critically review their current operations. In December, HSE has revealed it recently met with representatives of Oil and Gas UK and the health and safety managers of several of the UK's offshore producers to discuss how the industry plans to improve process safety leadership, audits, and assurance.

The letter HSE sent to industry requested all production operators to write back with a summary of the outputs from their reviews. At the recent OGUK meeting, HSE shared several examples of individual good practices it had identified from those letters. They included the use of structured protocols for senior leaders to follow when attending offshore installations to ensure effective engagement. HSE also highlighted the benefit of defining expected standards of process safety behavior specific to each role within an organization so everyone can be clear on the actions they need to take to prevent major incidents.

"It's clear from the responses we received that a much greater focus has been placed on process safety management within the industry in recent years, and there are some great individual examples of leadership commitment being shown," said Russell Breen, operations manager in HSE's Energy Division. "Finding better, more expedient ways of sharing both the causes and learnings from incidents, as well as the examples of good and bad practice we find through our inspections, is a challenge that remains for us all. Good progress has been made on this in recent months, and we will continue to engage with OGUK to help facilitate such sharing, for the benefit of everyone in the industry."

At the OGUK meeting, HSE also presented observations from its program of operational integrity inspections during the previous year. According to the agency's release, "it was clear that systems for audit and assurance remain a priority for improvement, but particular weaknesses were also observed in the areas of management of change, and safe isolation and reinstatement of plant. These have also been significant causal factors in several recent hydrocarbon releases."

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